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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My Pillow settles consumer lawsuit over health claims for $1 million

False health claims are punishable by law
My Pillow is prohibited from making specific claims
By Mark Sadaka

Earlier in 2016, My Pillow was accused of deceptive advertising in a civil lawsuit filed by California consumer protection groups and prosecutors in nine California counties. This month, the Chaska-based pillow manufacturer agreed to settle the lawsuit and pay nearly $1 million in civil penalties, including $100,000 in charitable contributions. In agreeing to the settlement, My Pillow does not admit wrongdoing.

Consumer advocates with TruthInAdvertising.org and California consumer protection officials launched an investigation into the company over health claims My Pillow made about its product, including claims the pillow could prevent sleep loss associated with migraines, sleep apnea, neck pain, restless leg syndrome, insomnia, and other health complaints. The consumer watchdog argued these claims were not backed by reliable scientific evidence.

According to investigators, My Pillow also marketed the pillow as "the Official Pillow of the National Sleep Foundation" without disclosing the financial connection with the group as required by law. While this claim is still on the company's website, the settlement requires removing the claim by the end of January 2017.

Under the settlement, My Pillow can no longer say its products can cure or treat health conditions like fibromyalgia, insomnia, and sleep apnea. My Pillow stopped making health claims about its products before the case began, according to My Pillow counsel Joe Springer. The company may not make such statements until it conducts clinical trials.

"We decided to pay out rather than pay millions to prove our innocence," Lindell said in a statement about the settlement.

According to Lindell, My Pillow will make the $100,000 donation to nonprofits in California that support domestic violence victims and the homeless.

The preliminary settlement is expected to be approved in early 2017.

My Pillow is still facing two class action lawsuits over its marketing. One of these complaints, filed in California, cites claims founder and inventor Mike Lindell makes that he is a "sleep expert" despite having "no expertise in sleep science or medicine." The class action also alleges the company used excerpts from third party news organizations in marketing to falsely make consumers believe these organizations had endorsed My Pillow.

A second class action filed in Oregon accuses the company of deceptive marketing in its "buy one get one free" promotion. The lawsuit alleges the company inflated the cost of one pillow so consumers would actually be buying two pillows at near the regular price of two pillows.

A separate California class action lawsuit brought again My Pillow, which settled last month, allows a $5 refund to households that purchased a pillow.

My Pillow, founded in 2005, experienced a sharp increase in sales after the company began airing 30-minute infomercials that featured founder Mike Lindell. In 2012, market research found that My Pillow ran more infomercials in the United States than any other company. My Pillow currently spends about $1 million per week on advertising, including infomercials. In February, Lindell told Consumer Reports that the company ran ads nightly across the country and up to 10 times per day on the Fox network.

Since 2005, My Pillow has sold more than 18 million pillows at $50 each with annual revenue of more than $100 million.

About the author: Mark Sadaka from Sadaka Associates, the leading Defective Product Attorney, has a national practice and works with clients from New York to Alaska.

Image: Ajel/Pixabay, CC0, US-PD